A giant, 3-story water battery has been in use at an Australian University, powering its air conditioning systems, and has already cut electrical usage by a whopping 40%.

A first of its kind, the battery stores energy generated by the 6,000 solar panels placed across campus rooftops. It has been in operation since September. Estimates state that the thermal energy tank could save $100 million in air conditioning costs over the next 25 years, and dramatically reduce the school's greenhouse gas emissions.

The cooling system was launched in partnership with Veolia, a resource management company, and is just one of a number of ways the school is working towards being carbon neutral by 2025.

β€œUSC has a plan to be completely carbon neutral by 2025, which is a challenge to any budget because it requires significant changes to the way energy is captured and consumed,” said USC Chief Operating Officer Dr. Scott Snyder. β€œSo, we really did have to think out of the box, and by forming a partnership with Veolia, we were able to negotiate a 10-year plan that suited us both and delivered major energy savings to the University.”

β€œThe system was switched on in September and is now delivering 2.1 megawatts of power and we estimate that we will save more than $100 million in energy costs over the next 25 years,” he added. β€œAnother benefit is that we are able to take our students to visit the system and teach them about innovation and finding cleaner energy solutions for the future.”

The system was recently recognized by the prestigious Global District Energy Climate Awards.